It’s unlike any other time of your life. It doesn’t matter where you went, where you came from or where you’re going next, the only people that truly get you are the ones you traveled the world with.
1.) They’ve seen you cry in an airport
Or a taxi. or a bus. or a train station. They get how hard it can be traveling for days on end, sleeping on hostel floors and fighting your nagging week long hangover. But they don’t judge. Traveling is exhausting and takes it out of you. And for a lot of us, going abroad was the first time we’ve really, truly seen the world. They were there when you went from “How do I buy a metro card?” to a world-traveling-tanned-shouldered-beadeded-hair-backpacking master.
2.) They went absolutely NUTS with you
The biggest enablers I have ever met in my life were the people I lived with in Europe. Go clubbing on a Tuesday, screw your history exam, lets go to Budapest– two weekends in a row. Definitely go kiss the Australian poet you met in your hostel on the beach. YOLO is the name of the game while studying abroad, and your friends know it. So they hold you accountable for literally living your life like it should be the chorus of a Ke$ha song. Study abroad is this weird world where you’re not really on vacation but it kind of feels like you are. Because you’re on this like 6 month hiatus from college life and well– reality in general– everyone treats it like it’s the last leg of their lives. And honestly, good. That mindset led to the craziest time of my life.
3.) They saved you from being “Taken”
We’ve all been there. Sketchy dude on a dancefloor backs himself into you, your friends pull you away–crisis averted. It’s almost the Friday night norm at a packed bar on campus. But when you’re studying abroad you don’t know if the guy who’s making you uncomfortable is just a weirdo or an actual serious threat to your safety. It’s no secret you have to be hyper aware while traveling, that’s why your crew is serious about your whereabouts– all the damn time. They’re basically the female equivalents of Liam Neeson if you try and leave the bar early. From cat callers to being pulled into a strangers car (yes that happened to me) you’ll dodge some pretty sketchy situations while abroad, there’s absolutely no doubt you and your bests will get close fast, for safety’s sake. Shout out to my girl Meagan for yanking me away from my near Euro kidnapping experience.
4.) They’re cool with getting lost
A friend you need is one whose okay getting lost with you. Because believe me, after you graduate, you’re going to need someone who understands the “holy shit what am I doing” side of you. Whether you’re reading a map upside down wondering the streets of Florence or reading a map upside down for a majority of the beginning of your adult years– your study abroad bests know the feeling. You can’t be uptight. You gotta be go with the flow. In job searching, graduating and horrible, post-grad breakups, your study abroad friends are all about the journey not the destination. And a friendship that deep, sticks with you forever.
5.) They miserably failed that Dutch class with you
You’re in an entirely Dutch class, with a teacher that speaks only Dutch, with a book written only in Dutch, and you’ve literally never even heard a Dutch word in your life. Somehow having a crew of companions that are just as scared as you are when the teacher screams Dutch in your face alleviates the “oh my god this is so humiliating” moments of class everyday. Nothing will make you closer with a group of strangers than commiserating over an absolutely miserable class experience. Dank U Wel, guys. (And yes, I just had to Google Translate that.)
6.) You were “brain-washed” together
When my best friend declared that she was never going to leave Budapest, signed up to be a hostel worker and literally called her parents to tell them the news, we all jumped on board. That’s the thing, you’re so intoxicated by new adventures and the amazing people you’ve met and this lifestyle you never knew was possible, that your judgement is a bit skewed. Study abroad friend groups are like cults. Before we knew it we were writing down ways to create a hostel chain in the US and drop out of school and live this endless study abroad backpacking lifestyle. In short, you were all brainwashed together and nearly, just nearly, drank the Budapest Party Hostel, “You could live like this forever, kid” kool-aid.
7.) They know all your secrets. All your really, really bad study abroad secrets
You never knew if you’d be close to them in the first place. At first they were a few friendly-looking girls sitting in your orientation group with cute boots, and now they’re your global soul mates. It’s like an arranged friendship marriage. You went on a journey, your paths collided, you learned everything there was to know about each other in what seems like .5 seconds, and now you’re pretty much travel married and can never cut the ties. The reason? Because you backpacked around Portugal with them for 3 weeks and they know every. embarrassing. thing. that happened to you. From food poisoning to winning a headstand competition at the club– the stupid stuff, the funny stuff and the take your breath away stuff– those stories are going with them to the grave. Or you hope. And when someone has that much dirt on you, you stay close. You just have to.